How does a gal go from kissing the Sexiest Man Alive to unsettling the most vexing physician alive? Actress Katheryn Winnick demonstrates just that on the next new outing for Fox's House. The episode doesn't air until next week, but Winnick was nice enough to offer TVGuide.com a sneak peek at her "controversial" story line — one which promises to shed light on a long-dormant secret of the dark doc's.
TVGuide.com: On House, you're playing Eve, a rape victim. What else can you say about this episode and your role in it? I'm hearing the words "controversial" and "stirring" tossed around....
Winnick: It's probably one of the biggest guest-star roles ever written — not just in terms of the size and amount of material, but in the way it goes very in-depth for a guest star, as Eve goes head-to-head with Dr. House. I don't know how much I can give away, but she's a rape victim who goes through a lot of different stuff within the episode. It was pretty intense while shooting it.
TVGuide.com: I imagine you share a lot of meaty scenes with Hugh Laurie?
Yes, which was unbelievable. I try to break him down, but his character is very strong and he doesn't allow his feelings to get involved with patients. But for whatever reason, because of what I've been through, I feel that I can relate to his pain.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, I've heard that your character's interactions with House shed some light on a past secret of his.
Winnick: Yes. She sees herself in him because they're both suffering through pain, because they both went through some traumatic abuse. I think that's why she connects to him and only wants to connect with him and not with any other doctor.
TVGuide.com: Were you a fan of the show going in?
Winnick: I had heard of it, but I hadn't seen it. They sent me episodes, but I kind of wanted to go in there with a fresh perspective. But since then I have been watching, and it's great. Everybody's really good in it.
TVGuide.com: You also have coming up [premiering Sunday at 9 pm/ET] Lifetime's Tipping Point, where you're playing a schizophrenic. Is it based on a true story?
Winnick: It is, actually. It came from a news article about a young woman who has schizophrenia but has put herself through med school, and struggles everyday with whether the things she sees are real or not.
TVGuide.com: What sort of research did you do for that role?
Winnick: I decided to approach it differently than I do most of my other stuff. I could have studied schizophrenia, and I learned a little about it, but I didn't.
TVGuide.com: That's a smart way to go, because a person who suffers from schizophrenia doesn't know much about it themselves.
Winnick: Exactly. And not just that, but the most important thing to realize is that this woman is different than anybody else. Even though she has a mental disease, she's going to figure out how to overcome and live with it and cope with it every day. And on set, I tried to distance myself from people, because that's who the character is. Even if I was talking to a psychiatrist, I don't care how many medical degrees you have, you will never understand what a schizophrenic is going through because you haven't experienced it. It was an amazing experience, because I got a chance to explore different parts of my personality.
TVGuide.com: Right now you're off to film Amusement, a feature in which you play one of three girls stalked by a grudge-wielding killer.
Winnick: Yes, she is actually the one who identifies with this boy from their childhood, the one who understands how all he wants is a sense of belonging, so she takes over a part of his personality because she, too, has that malevolent side. It's an intense role.
TVGuide.com: Was it exciting to play a serial killer last March on Criminal Minds?
Winnick: Yeah, it was! I got to play somebody who stalks [Amber Heard, soon to be seen on CW's Hidden Palms], falls in love with her and tries to kill her.
TVGuide.com: I'm not seeing many "damsel in distress" roles here. Is that by design?
Winnick: I like the challenging stuff better, I'd rather sink my teeth into something meaty. For example, Criminal Minds offered me [Heard's role], but I was like, "No, I want to dive into the serial-killer role!" Being outside of who I am, it's more intriguing.
TVGuide.com: You have a third-degree black belt in tae kwon do and a second-degree black belt in karate. For which role has that ever come in handy?
Winnick: I'm telling you, none yet. [Laughs] I have not had a chance to do martial arts in a movie yet. But that's how I got into the business, teaching actors and actresses martial arts.
TVGuide.com: Does he have those qualities up close?
He's a cutie. The guy is definitely very photogenic and sweet and down-to-earth and nice.
TVGuide.com: What makes him sexier, his looks or personality?
Winnick: Definitely his personality. Looks are one thing, but he's also very talented, at both comedy and drama.
TVGuide.com: Lastly, what's this I'm reading about you getting kicked out of summer camp at age 14. True or false?
Winnick: [Laughs] I used to always play practical jokes on teachers and counselors when I was a kid....
TVGuide.com: But what kind of joke gets a person kicked out of camp?! Was fire involved?
Winnick: Actually, there was one involving a bonfire.... At school we used to put laxatives in the teachers' coffees, put Saran Wrap on the toilets. We were pretty, um...
TVGuide.com: Still have that streak inside you?
Winnick: Oh, yeah! [Laughs]
Send your comments on this Q&A to firstname.lastname@example.org.